Newsletter Issue 3, sr. 2021
The third edition of the Philippine Maritime Matters builds on developing stories from the past two months.
China recently passed its Coast Guard Law, flaring already-heightened tensions in the contested region. Recent events, however, marked a significantly new low for regional stability. According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Chinese fishing vessels were seen in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), allegedly taking shelter from inclement weather at the time. These were initially accepted by the Philippine Government as vessels are allowed to take temporary shelter from natural calamities under international law. But these vessels have not moved despite clearer skies and calmer seas. The positioning of these fishing vessels also seem unorthodox. According to Chinese authorities, it seems that this is their exercise of sovereign rights over the maritime features - a mark off from the initial weather concern. This has sparked a series of exchange between the Philippine Government and Chinese embassy officials. This is on top of the issue that the Philippines is facing as it grapples with China's 'vaccine diplomacy'.